The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee revealed recently that a computer system containing sensitive information of about 75,000 students, faculty members and staff was hacked and infected with malicious software.
According to a news release from the university, the data breach was discovered on May 25 when the school's technology staff found that hackers had installed viruses onto a server that contained confidential data for several departments. Information included Social Security numbers and names of both current and former employees and students, the university said.
University officials said that it was not clear who was responsible for the attack, but, as of yet, there was no evidence that the hackers had downloaded the information on the server.
Nevertheless, the university has taken several steps to keep those affected by the breach abreast of the situation and aware of ways to protect themselves. For example, the university has launched a website explaining the situation and providing numbers for credit agencies and resources.
However, as there has been no evidence that the personal information was misused, the university said it is not offering any sort of free credit monitoring. This is likely to come to the chagrin of many of those affected by the breach, as the hackers could potentially sit on the stolen information until the heat dies down.
As many experts have noted, the first half of 2011 was a dismal one in terms of data security and cybercrime. This year has seen high-profile cyberattacks levied against several major corporations, as well as a rise in hacktivism attacks intended to stir up some social disruption.
As these trends continue, organizations, including educational institutions, private companies and government agencies, must be more mindful of their data protection practices. As hacking schemes become more sophisticated, enterprise data security must follow suit.